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Review - Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Last post for today! I'm playing catch-up...

Sad trombones... I really thought I was going to like this! The movie was so pretty, the leads perfect. It had that perfect mix of adorable-ness and angst without making one choke on their salty popcorn.

So I read the book. Tried to read it. I mean, tried but it was so hard. It started out okay, but I soon became irritated with the preponderance of italicized words and - the hyphen breaks to - you know, emphasize a point. Annoyed yet? Yeah, me too. I'll cut it out now.

The book started out really well. I'm not a fan of third person, present tense narration but the story ticked along pretty tidily at first. I thought, wow, this is a well-written story with an intelligent background in American politics. Nice! There is also a freshly modern take on the fake friends trope, mixed with enemies to lovers, as the pair use Instagram to show people what great buddies they are. I liked that. It was fresh and relevant. I could even forgive the glaringly obvious lack of research about British royalty, culture and government. It's an Alternative Universe, so all righty then.

But then the book went on - and on - and on. I was so bored by the final third, I was hoping for an assassination attempt or something to perk things up a bit. Once Alex and Henry got together it was a case of posh people sneaking around on private jets and banging in a tasteful way on various luxury beds. Fun for a while but not something I can really relate to.

It all smacked a bit of The Princess Diaries with the UK standing in for Genovia. I didn't recognise my home country AT ALL. Okay, I get that the book is set in an alternative universe, and yes, it's fiction. I can forgive that, but there were times when I thought, this could be so much better. And shorter. Much shorter.

There were also some crashing missed opportunities. For example: when people were gathered out the front of Buckingham Palace, supporting the couple with Pride flags and banners, that is MASSIVE. That should have been a beautiful, moving scene with the couple at least acknowledging the people were there. The balcony (and the Kiss!) is a huge part of our culture and to not have the couple go out there and wave back at the crowd and feel their love was unforgivable. Instead, we have a mother/daughter sniping match between Henry's mother and the queen (lower case, please note.)

It all felt a bit off, if I'm honest. Full marks for LGBTQ and diversity rep (yay!) Lower marks for sanctimonious preaching and clunky dialogue. The texts between Henry and Alex felt self-indulgent pretty quickly. Yes, they were cute and they had nice friends (albeit a bit screamy) and everyone was so NICE apart from the Republican candidate and the queen (lower case) (boo hiss!) An attempt to shoehorn in some political intrigue fell flat (like the non-balcony scene) and did anyone really care about the election result when it was bloody obvious which way it was going to go anyway?

I could go on, but frankly, the book went from five to four to three to two paws so rapidly, zero gravity almost kicked in. I just felt like yeeting the Kindle out the nearest window. Two paws. (only because I enjoyed the first few chapters.)

What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

Alex Claremont-Diaz is handsome, charismatic, a genius – pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House ever since his mother first became President of the United States. There’s only one problem. When the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an altercation between Alex and Prince Henry, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family and state devise a plan for damage control: stage a truce. But what begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon they are hurtling into a secret romance that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations.

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